Travel Gear: Packing the “You-Should” Deflector

Sydney, Wednesday

It takes up no room in my luggage, but it’s often in my head, ready for action.   

I have two priorities with respect to my mother, whom we will soon be visiting in the U.S.:

1.  Her care and well-being, an ongoing focus   

2.  Readying her house for sale, a one-time (thank God) process

The physical and practical effort involved in both of these is huge, but manageable from the standpoint of communication, coordination of logistics, and gradual completion of tasks that must be done.    

It’s the emotional side of travelling to the place of my childhood, and the area where much of my family still lives, that gets to me.  I feel joy that I’ll see my mother in person, but opinionated relatives press me with, “You should stay longer,” or “You should move back,” or, earlier this year, “You (and presumably Clive) should move in and be her 24/7 carer.”  Some hover in the background, waiting for me to do something with which they disagree, or telling me what I should do with the contents of her house.

When I left my mother in June, it was easier than it had been in several years because I knew she was happy and well cared-for in her new place.  Yet as the time approaches to visit again, Bad Daughter guilt raises its nasty head; unlike many ex-pats, my yearning isn’t for my homeland, but for Sydney and Paris.   

I love my U.S. family and know they love me, but I don’t “You-Should” them and I don’t think anyone likes being on the receiving end of “You should do this” and “You should do that.”  I’m tempted to say, “You should mind your own business,” but that would make it worse and it’s so much better for everyone if we can keep things positive.

So I’ll try to stay calm, listen politely, consider reasonable ideas even when they’re presented as You-Shoulds, and respond with a non-committal smile.

These are the best You-Should deflectors I can think of at the moment.  I’d welcome additional suggestions.

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